Handmade Gaelic footballer figurines back in the groove

Handmade Gaelic footballer figurines back in the groove
Some of the GAA figurines now being produced by ogowna.com in Naul

Handmade Gaelic footballer figurines are once again being produced as the GAA Museum has commissioned a Dublin-based company to create them.

Extremely popular in the early 20th century, footballers and hurlers made from plaster were used as a point of sale promotion for Player’s Cigarettes in pubs and shops. 

They were often released in counties that had recently won All-Ireland titles.

With some of the original figurines going for €500 a piece in auction, they are considered valuable and sought-after items. 

Outside the GAA Museum, and private and pub collections, not too many exist.

Last August, the Irish Examiner sourced Dublin and Kerry statuettes to promote its weekend coverage of the drawn All-Ireland SFC final on the front page of its sports section.

Hurlers also featured in the county series but they often formed part of a double set with a footballer from another county. 

Some of the ornaments came on plinths including the slogan, “On all grounds — Player’s please.”

Consisting of cold cast porcelain, the reproductions, which are also hand-painted, are made by Ogowna in Naul and are priced at €30. 

The entire 32-county collection of footballers is available for €800. The jerseys are modelled on the current styles without the sponsors’ logo.

Player’s Cigarettes’ association with the GAA was pronounced, going back to the 1920s when inter-county footballers and hurlers featured on trading cards that were given away with packets of their products.

One series featured the outstanding hurlers of the 1920s, which included the likes of Cork’s Seán Óg Murphy and Bill Higgins, and Tipperary’s Martin Kennedy. 

With their portrait on their front, a complimentary paragraph on the player was included on the back along with his height and weight.

Sweet Cigarettes did the same during the 1950s with their collection of cards featuring legends of the games such as Mick O’Connell and Tom Cheasty.

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